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Silence and Where Is Home

by Baheya Zeitoun


Between every word ever said
A thousand more, heard but not uttered

In the silence lies the truth
That which is often concealed
The one that only the quiet can reveal

A motion, a glance, a smile
Rarely hides what words deny
Through the cracks of every phrase
Run the meanings that no one says

With facts always known
And acts protected, never shown
While relying heavily on senses
Rather than explanations that might create messes

An understanding that cannot be described
Awaits in peacefulness, where noise does not reside
Words unsaid are the most powerful of all
The silence holds stories told and never told

Where Is Home

It was cold when I woke up this morning on the street
with bitter cold wind freezing my face, my hands, and my feet.
“You’re finally awake, good morning!” she said,
greeting me as if I had just gotten out of bed.

“We have new toys today,”
she ironically continued, calling out for me to play.
We play with bullets and we play with bombs
while other kids play with real toys in their homes.

We have no homes, no school, just streets that are painted red,
a sentence that she often said,
and hearing it I would always dread.
However, it was true, because after all, both our parents were dead.

But through it all, we laughed and we played,
until it came, that dreaded time of day
when we all had to run away.

They hid behind their fortresses and guns
and killed everyone, old and young
until there were none.
We watched in silence and in fear,
waiting for them to disappear.

The man in the helmet turned and vacantly stared
at me, as if I was no more than air.
He then turned and vanished as if he was never there.
As quickly as it had started, it finally stopped,
and with the sound of the last gunshot, my heart dropped.

I walked down the street trying to ignore the bodies and the blood,
looking for her, looking ahead,
all the time hoping I wouldn’t see the body I prayed I would never have to see,
the one I then saw lying right in front of me.

She’d disappeared for a moment when I turned my head
and now she is dead.
I cried as I roamed the streets all alone.
Where, oh God, where is home?

She was my best friend, my family, and my all,
she made me feel safe in a time of war.
In a country that was no longer mine,
I stood on my own, wondering where is my home?


All artwork is courtesy of Rana Ashraf.

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